Good Day to All.
Last Friday of the month means another meeting of the Cephalopod Coffee House. This meetup is hosted by the Armchair Squid, and its purpose is to write about the best book we’ve read this month.
This month I read The Martian by Andy Weir. The first line of the novel should go down in history as one of the greatest lines in literary history:
“I’m pretty much fucked”
More from Amazon:
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
The first line of the novel perfectly encapsulates the predicament the protagonist finds himself in. The Martian is a story of survival in a place where humans weren’t meant to survive. On Mars, Mark Watney must feed himself, shelter himself, and figure out how many ways Mars will try to kill him before it happens. Mark is both a botanist and a mechanical engineer, two skills that combined seem awfully convenient for someone trying to survive on an inhospitable planet with an even more convenient sack of potatoes. I understand that in real life astronauts wear many hats, and anyone sent to Mars would have to have at least three jobs, but it really did seem a little too convenient. Why not a geologist/communications expert? Probably because he would die too quickly to sustain a full length novel.
Those complaints aside, one of the best things about the book is the science. The author, Andy Weir, is the son of a particle physicist and has a background in computer science. He set out to write a novel that was as scientifically accurate as possible. The Martian takes place in the near future and relies on technology that already exists, or could conceivable exist in the next couple of decades: no warp drives, no food replicators, no light weight spacesuits, no indestructible hulls. When he’s marooned, Mark must figure out a way to survive for four years on one year’s worth of rations and equipment that was designed for a two month long mission. He’s basically living in an airtight geodesic dome. That certainly helps to raise the tension, since pretty much anything can (and does) go wrong. The one thing that keeps Mark going (and kept me reading) is his wit and humor, and his absolute refusal to just lie down and die.
All right, that's my review. Feel free to stop by and visit our other readers: